July 2014 Release

WWDC Roundup: New Feature Support

Notification Actions: “category” API Support

In iOS 8, a number of new options are introduced that allow users to interact with custom functionality in the context of a user task. These customization options are known broadly as app extensions.

Today we are releasing partial API support for the Action app extension, which allows you to pass through the new category field in the APNS payload.

iOS 8 is in developer preview as of the date of this release (July 1, 2014), and the information included here is based on the technical information disclosed by Apple at 2014 WWDC regarding iOS 8. See the WWDC presentation What’s New in iOS Notifications for more detail on Apple’s announcements regarding notifications.

** Urban Airship documentation for this feature will be limited to this Release Note until iOS 8 is available to the public.

APNS Category Field

Changes to the APNS payload per Apple look like this:

   "aps": {
      "alert" : "You're invited!",
      "category" : "INVITE_CATEGORY"

Which means that category is a new key in the aps dictionary, similar to other aps dictionary keys such as alert and badge.

Urban Airship API Update

In the Urban Airship API, aps properties and their child properties are mapped to Platform Overrides for ios. Since we support multiple notification platforms, e.g., Google Cloud Messaging, the Platform Override design of our API allows us to quickly slot in support for new features of individual platforms.


   "notification" : {
      "ios": {
         "alert": "You're invited!",
         "category": "INVITE_CATEGORY"

Forthcoming change to Urban Airship API Reference:

  • "category" - Optional, a string. Sets the APNS category for the push. This maps directly to the “category” field in the "aps" section of the APNS payload.

To learn more about the changes to APNS, etc. , check out Apple’s What’s New in iOS 8. (Note: You may need an iOS Developer account to access content at developer.apple.com.)

APNS Payload Size Increase

Another major APNS announcement is the increase in the allowable payload for a push notification. The current payload limit is 256 bytes, and any notifications that exceed that limit are refused by APNS. Apple will increase the limit to 2KB.

The change will make room for a number of additional options for passing extra data along with your notification. As Apple continues to add new functionality and supporting fields such as category for Notification Actions, it makes sense to increase payload capacity to support such features.

Here at UA, we have a number of system checks in our delivery infrastructure and web dashboard that monitor for encroachment and infringement upon the payload size limit. We will be retrofitting these services to adapt to the new size limit, and releasing the changes as soon as Apple does.

There’s nothing for you to change on your end. Watch this space for an official announcement when the limit change is live.

User Dashboard

Tag Conditions

Automated Messages can now check a device’s tags to determine if the message should be sent or not. This feature lets you target your audience at a more granular level, adding an additional filter for relevance.

Tag Conditions will check devices for the existence or non-existence of the tag(s) before delivering or not-delivering the specified message.

See the Tag Conditions Dashboard documentation or API documentation for more information.

Push to Local Time

Push to Local Time is an option when scheduling a message to have Urban Airship deliver it at the same time of day, no matter what time zone your audience is in. For example, if you were a national restaurant chain, you could deliver a push message or rich content “Special lunch offer, 50% off” that arrives at 10:00 AM whether the user is in New York City, Chicago, or Honolulu. We’ve also added reporting that breaks down our push reporting by time zone, so you can see how different geographies respond to your messaging.

See the documentation on Push To Local Time here.

Amazon Device Messaging (ADM) Platform Support

Urban Airship now provides support for push and rich messaging to Amazon devices:

This release includes:

  • Message Composer Support

  • Audience Segmentation

  • Rich Pages: delivery as Landing Pages or to a Message Center

  • Rich Actions: push to URL, Deep Links, Dynamic Segmentation

  • Push-level Analytics (deeper reporting after initial release)

  • Full API

See our blog post for an overview, or view our detailed product information.

Billing History Table

The Billing History table now brings a full view of your monthly billing metrics to the dashboard, broken out by app and by platform. The chart includes the top 20 apps that contribute to your monthly bill. For customers with more than 20 development apps, complete billing information is available via the CSV downloand feature.

This layout will help you more easily track billing information over time and see how apps (and plaftorms) compare head-to-head.

Statistics Report

The (app) Statistics Report has been updated, with better presentation of metrics and new tooltips with relevant help text. The updated Statistics Report provides greater context and serves as a simple, current snapshot of your app’s installations and notification sends:

Push Response Report

The Push Response Report has been updated to present a more streamlined visualization of app open attribution.

The new Push Response Report design presents the total Opt-in Opens , Direct Opens and Influenced Opens side-by-side for the relevant time period. The updated report also includes more detailed descriptions of the calculations which underpin the report, as well as helpful links and tooltips to explain the different metrics provided:

Devices Report

To improve clarity between billing metrics and the app analytics reports, the “Audience Report” has been renamed to “Devices Report.” This report still shows unique devices, and per-platform opt-in data. The name now reflects the application of this data, and removes the ambiguity between daily snapshots (Reports), and the monthly roll-ups (“Audience” numbers used for billing).

CSV Exports

Across all of the reports, we’ve improved the CSV downloads to make it easer to crunch the numbers using other systems. The “Export CSV” button will still provide all the data to which users are accustomed, and now in addition:

  • Header rows have been turned into columns, for use in reports and pivot tables (e.g. Send Time)

  • New columns including App Name, App Key, and Push ID to make it easier to combine data across multiple apps

  • Improved and unified date formats that parse correctly in Excel

Tooltips, Descriptions & Docs

Like the Push Response Report, all of the aggregate app reports (e.g. Push Sends, App Opens, Time in App, and Unique App Opens) have new subtitles explaining their value, improved tooltips, as well as links to updated documentation.


iOS Channels

Channels are a new Urban Airship-specific identifier that will replace the device token as the primary means of addressing an iOS device for notifications, messages, and metadata.

Depending on how your app interacts with device tokens today, you may need to take steps to update your Urban Airship integration, but in most cases, the transition to Channels will be seamless.

For a more detailed look at Channels, see: Channels Primer.